Road to Scratch Update: Setting Goals for the 2017 Golf Season

Seems like each year I start setting my golf goals for the upcoming season earlier and earlier. Although our golf season here in Alberta doesn’t typically start until around April, there are plenty of things that can be done during the winter to get yourself in a position to have a stellar golf season.

The daunting part about a commitment to improve your golf game is that there are no straightforward formulas to do it. You can’t just Google a “couch to scratch” training program. The path to improvement in golf can be long, winding, poorly signed, and sometimes you’re not even sure if you’re in drive or reverse.

This is part of what I love about golf. Success in golf is about so much more than just physical ability, and when you do achieve something, it’s ridiculously satisfying. Particularly in competitive golf, success requires mental toughness, focus, a strong stomach, control of your nerves, the ability to cope with adversity, the ability to overcome fears such as embarrassment, and of course, a relentlessly good attitude.

Looking back on 2016, my goals helped me make some good progress. From beginning to the end of 2016 I reduced my handicap from 5.1 to 3.9. This was higher than my target, but still forward progress.

I was most proud that my best rounds of the year came in competition. I love competition, and the more I experience it the more I crave it. I get goosebumps thinking about walking to the first tee of a competitive match. The nerves, the adrenaline, the tension in the air — I want more of it.

I’m tweaking my goals slightly this season, but my methodology is similar to my 2016 goals — one end-of-season results orientated goal to form the basis of my ongoing process goals.

End of season goal:

Reduce my handicap index from 3.9 to less than 2.0 before the end of the Canadian season. This would be good progress towards the big picture goal of being a scratch golfer.

I won’t be dwelling on my handicap as the season goes, but it’s a source of inspiration to develop my process goals to help me get there. If I stay focused on the process, the handicap will take care of itself.

Pre-season process goals:

  1. Continue with strength, stability, and speed workouts from DM Golf Performance every second day, along with daily stretching, muscle rolling, and corrective exercises.
  2. I will see my instructor, Fred Teno, on a regular basis from now until golf season to work on improving my swing and making it more efficient. We want to build a swing I can own and understand on a day-to-day basis. I am pumped for this opportunity. His belief in my ability is a huge boost.
  3. Create a daily mental game routine. It doesn’t have to be grueling. It’s amazing what 5 minutes a day can do to keep your mind in a good place.

Golf season process goals:

As you all know, golf season can be a busy time. Between getting rounds in, trying not to get fired from my demanding career as an engineer, traveling, and maintaining a social life, it doesn’t always feel like there’s time left to practice and stay fit. While I tend to be ambitious, goals still need to be realistic.

  1. Maintain strength, stability and speed workouts a minimum of twice per week, and continue with daily stretching, muscle rolling, and corrective exercises.
  2. Set aside 4 hours per week to practice. 75% of this time on short game. Since I struggled to work on my short game as much as I wanted last year, I may need to incorporate more short game work in my warm-up routine before playing rounds to hit this target.
  3. Play in at least 5 competitive events — this can include club events such as Club Championships and match play events which don’t implement handicap strokes.
  4. Incorporate daily mental game training into my routine.

Goal setting for golf

I am hoping that my goals inspire others to set their own goals, whether for golf, their career, or other aspects of life. This is part of the reason for spewing them on my blog, and although I may never know for sure if I achieve this, it still feels worth the effort if there’s a chance it’ll inspire just one person to improve in 2017.

If you’re so inclined, please share your own 2017 goals in the comments section!

Happy golfing!


  20 comments for “Road to Scratch Update: Setting Goals for the 2017 Golf Season

  1. Fred Teno
    January 15, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    I like the commitment. Are you willing to share?

  2. January 15, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Josh – I am inspired by your goal and your blog. I am going after the same goal. But I am way back from you. I am not giving up.

    • January 15, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Hey Linley,

      That’s awesome to hear! All the best and be sure to keep us posted along the way. Always nice to have someone shooting for the same goal. No doubts it is achievable.


  3. January 16, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Josh, very inspirational post. Love your process oriented approach and I will adopt the same for myself. My continual bug-a-boo is ball striking with my irons. Stuck between 8 and 9, if I can improve to 10+ GIR / round, good results will follow. That is my sole goal for this year and I’m going after it with more regular instruction / feedback from my professional (as you have noted) and hopefully more regular play and practice. Life/work kinda got in the way last year and my rounds played dipped.

    Good luck this year with your approach and goals. Let us know your progress!


    • January 16, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Thanks, Brian! Focusing on ball striking with an aim at improving your GIR stats is a fantastic goal. I love the narrowed focus on this part of your game, and you can directly measure your success/progress. Keep us posted, and I’d love to hear about the things you’ll be working on over the season to help you get here. Good luck!


  4. January 16, 2017 at 5:57 am

    Good luck in following up your goals. Interested in your daily mental game routine as I reckon that’s my big issue in moving forward. Cheers, Rob.

    • January 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Thank you, Rob! I am planning on touching on this in a separate post, so definitely stay tuned. All the best this season!


  5. January 16, 2017 at 9:23 am

    An intelligent and purposeful look into 2017, Josh.

    I love the ‘couch to scratch’ line and looking back that’s been my approach for some time…unsuccessfully mind you. I’m a 9.6 now and my move last fall has helped me get into some excellent habits – physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m going to post soon on my blog but my big news is I’m joining a golf club in my community which will help give the space to practice more regularly…which is my biggest need. So I can cautiously optimistic I can work to see a downward trend in my scores and index. Getting closer to 5.0 is my short term goal and I am prepared to go after it.

    A great read and I wish you success over the year as you travel down your road to scratch.


    • January 16, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Hey Mike,

      Thank you very much! Congrats on the decision to join a golf club this season. We obviously both like to travel and play new courses, but it’s not always the best for your golf game. Having a place to play and practice more regularly certainly helps with the game improvement side of things. Looking forward to hearing more about it and your plans for 2017!


  6. January 16, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Hi Josh,

    No specific goals for me as practice hasn’t been my thing for quite some time 🙂 but I do plan to get in better shape this year. I need to lose some weight, which hopefully will improve my game. I know it will improve health which is the big reason for trying to improve it.

    • January 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Hey Jimmy,

      That is an excellent plan! Without our health everything else is moot. Thanks for contributing.


  7. January 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm


    I like your approach. I believe that you can accomplish anything you put your mind too. Your approach is very sensible and repeatable – to me, this is the key to a great plan! Cutting your handicap in half will be a great challenge, but will be the driving force for many other changes you will make to be a better golfer. Lastly, putting time away to practice on specific parts of your game is awesome! It will pay the most dividends over the season. I look forward to reading about your successes and if nothing else happens, remember to be grateful and have fun! 😉


    • January 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Hey Jim,

      Thanks! It will certainly be a challenge, but if it wasn’t a challenge it wouldn’t be nearly as fun! And yes, no matter what I will remain grateful for the opportunity and have a blast.


  8. Padraig MacLochlainn
    January 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Hi Josh. I like your plan. I used to play off 1 some years ago but through injuries and a bout of the yips I find myself at 5.1, I play 70+ competitive rounds a year and with a point back for every score a shot above the CSS it’s difficult to get cut unless you’re shooting below your handicap regularly, my goal this year is to get to 3 handicap before I’m 50 years young, good luck with your golf and hopefully you reach your goal too
    Cheers Padraig

    • January 17, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Hey Padraig,

      That’s a fantastic goal and one that’s clearly very achievable. You’ve been there before so you can get there again. Sky is still the limit at 50 years young! All the best and don’t hesitate to keep me posted.


      • Padraig MacLochlainn
        January 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

        Thanks Josh and I will 👍
        Best of luck in ’17


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